The material presented here is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to be used as financial, investment, or legal advice.
How to Shop Online and Save Money
It’s amazing how much of life is spent on our screens. We text our friends and families, read or watch the news, catch up on social media and, of course, shop! According to a recent NPR/Marist poll, 2 out of 3 Americans have made an online purchase.1 And that number is expected to grow in the coming years.
Online shopping can be more than just retail therapy, though — it’s also an easy way to hunt for the best deals on items you actually need. Here are some smart tips for saving money when shopping online:
Wait on every purchase
Online retailers purposely make it quick and easy to buy the stuff in your cart. Outsmart them by taking time between choosing items and actually purchasing them. This trick serves a dual purpose: First, you may find you don’t really need or even want the item after a few days. Second, the retailer may email a coupon for you to use for the “forgotten items” in your cart. Win-win!
Outsmart dynamic pricing
Dynamic pricing is one of the most powerful tools that merchants use to get online shoppers to spend more. It involves using sophisticated algorithms and tracking to show shoppers prices based on their location, browsing history and spending patterns. Retailers learn each shopper’s price point and show them products in that range.
Outsmart dynamic pricing by following these tips:
- Clear your browsing history and cookies or shop with your browser in incognito or private mode.
- Log out of your email and social media accounts.
- Choose localized websites of international brands instead of being redirected to the U.S. site.
Time your purchases right
Believe it or not, there’s a method to the madness of online pricing. Learning how to crack the code can help you unlock substantial savings.
Sunday’s your day to score cheap airfare, while Mondays are the most expensive day to book your tickets, according to the Airlines Reporting Corporation.2
Bookworms can often find discounted titles during Amazon Prime Day, a two-day event usually held during the summer months, and by perusing Amazon’s various Deals of the Day.
Shopping for a new laptop or desktop computer? Major retailers like Dell and Hewlett-Packard typically offer their best deals on Black Friday and during the back-to-school period from late July through mid-August.
For most other purchases, it’s best to wait until the end of the week for the best deals. According to retail site, Rather Be Shopping, most stores roll out discounts and special deals on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.3
You may already be in the habit of doing a quick search for coupons before making an online purchase, but even when you have those coupons on hand, there’s a technique that may guarantee savings.
If you have a promo code for a specified percentage off your entire purchase and a discount/coupon for a dollar amount, use the percentage offer first. For example, say you have a 15% off promo code and a $5 coupon to use on a $100 purchase. First, use the promo code to shave $15 off your purchase. Next, apply the discount to bring your total down to just $80. If you did it the other way around, you’d save less money.
Ask for price-drop refunds
Discovering that an item you purchased yesterday has just dropped in price can be incredibly frustrating. However, some companies take the edge off by offering to refund the price difference within a specific timeframe.
Use multiple emails for discounts
Many online retailers offer one-time promo codes for new customers, but you can be a new customer more than once! All you need is a different email address.
Don’t shop alone
Take advantage of the many apps, websites and browser extensions that can help you save money every time you shop online.
Shopping online can be a wallet-draining activity, but it doesn’t have to be. By incorporating our tips into your virtual shopping routines, you’ll be able to potentially save money and feel better about your purchases. So, go ahead, treat yourself (a little).